Mehmet Oz, the Trump-endorsed candidate, deadlocked in a Senate race too close to call in Pennsylvania.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, dumped by North Carolina voters despite Donald Trump’s plea that he be given a second chance.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little, crushing his Trump-endorsed opponent in a state Trump owned in 2020.
And in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp, holding a 30-point lead over his Trump-endorsed challenger, former Sen. David Perdue, going into next week’s primary election.
It’s enough to give Kari Lake chills. Or it would be, if only she didn’t have her ace in the hole, Matt Salmon.
A Trump endorsement isn't what it used to be
This week’s primary elections showed that a Trump endorsement isn’t what it used to be, certainly not one that command a majority of the party's voters.
“The message is that Trump delivers 30% to maybe 35% of the electorate,” longtime Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin told me. “That’s not enough.”
Even Trump seems to recognize his waning influence. CNN is reporting that the former president may hold off on making more primary endorsements given this week’s losses.
“He’ll be a lot more selective for sure,” a former Trump campaign official told the cable network.
Of course, it’s not all bad news for Trump.
J.D. Vance, his anointed Senate candidate in Ohio, won a crowded Republican primary earlier this month. Trump also racked up a V this week with Rep. Tim Budd's win in a three-way North Carolina Senate primary.
His guy, state Rep. Doug Mastriano won a crowded Republican Pennsylvania governor’s race.
But Trump’s endorsement in that race came late, when Mastriano was already ahead in the polls. And Mastriano won with the help of Democrats who see the state’s loudest election denier as the easiest to beat in a general election. (Democrats actually sent out mailers boosting him.)
Kari Lake may be the GOP's best chance to lose
It’s the same reason Democrats in Arizona are rooting for Lake to win the state’s Republican Aug. 2 primary for governor. They see her – and probably only her – as the Republican who Democrat Katie Hobbs can beat in November.
Which is why longtime Republican strategists are rooting for anybody but Lake to win the Aug. 2 Republican primary.
“She’s the Mastriano of Arizona, 100%,” GOP consultant Chris Baker told me.
“She’s definitely the Republican Party’s best chance to lose,” Republican consultant Tyler Montague said.
The problem for Lake is simple: Her scorched-earth campaign is wildly popular with about a third of the Republican Party, but she’s been unable to grow her base of support much beyond 35%. Based on results of other races around the country this week, it doesn’t appear that Trump can help her.
But Matt Salmon can. The former congressman is running third in the polls, behind Lake and businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson. While he has loads of detailed policy proposals that conservative Repubicans should love, he doesn’t appear to have the campaign strategy or the campaign money to make his case with Republican primary voters.
Matt Salmon could stop that loss. But will he?
If Salmon really wants to see a Republican governor, he should get out of the race and throw his support to Robson, whose views pretty much track his own.
Yet there he is, determined to stick it out in a three-way that could well hand the nomination to Lake.
And the Governor’s Office to Hobbs in a year when Republicans should be mopping up.
“If he is thinking clearly, he should do whatever it takes to beat Lake,” Montague said. “But that’s not happening.”
Instead, Salmon this week announced that he’s received the coveted endorsement of former Rep. Trent Franks, who when last seen publicly was resigning his seat amid complaints that he was asking female staffers to have his baby.
Maybe Club for Growth will come riding to Salmon’s rescue and pump millions into his campaign to help propel him to victory. Or maybe Robson will pull enough millions out of her own pocket to overtake Lake’s lead in a three-way race.
More likely, Robson and Salmon will split the non-Trump vote and Lake will eke out a win with Trump’s diehard supporters.
If so, no one will be cheering louder than Democrats.
This week has shown that Donald Trump may not be able to deliver for Kari Lake.
But clearly, Matt Salmon can.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: A Trump endorsement isn't what it used to be. Just look at Kari Lake